Aklief (Trifarotene) - Topical

What Is Aklief?

Aklief (trifarotene) is a prescription topical medication used to treat acne vulgaris (pimples) in people 9 years and older. It is in a drug class called retinoids.

The cream works by peeling off dead skin, unclogging pores (tiny openings on the sin), and reducing inflammation. It also stops new acne from forming.

Aklief is available as a topical cream that you apply directly to the skin.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Trifarotene

Brand Name(s): Aklief

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Topical

Therapeutic Classification: Antiacne

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Trifarotene

Dosage Form(s): Cream

What Is Aklief Used For?

Aklief is used to treat pimples (acne vulgaris) in people 9 years of age and older. It also prevents clogged pores and prevents the development of new acne.

This medication is a topical cream that should only be used on the skin; it is not meant for internal use. Keep it away from the mouth, eyes, and vagina.

How to Use Aklief

Before applying Aklief to your skin:

  • Cleanse and dry the skin.
  • Wash your hands before and after use. However, if applying to your hands, do not wash your hand after using it.
  • Press down on the pump to dispense cream. One pump may cover areas of the face while two pumps may cover larger surfaces like the chest or shoulders. Follow your healthcare provider's directions.
  • Apply a thin layer to the affected area on the skin once daily in the evening.
  • Rub in gently into your skin.

You may apply the medication to your forehead, chin, back, shoulders, or chest.

While using this cream, do not:

  • Take it by mouth or apply it to your eyes, nose, corner of your nose, or lips.
  • Use it vaginally.
  • Apply to damaged, sunburned, cut, broken, or scraped skin.
  • Apply to eczema.
  • Wax the affected area. It may irritate the skin.

If you get Aklief in any of these areas, it may burn. Rinse it out well with water.

Using moisturizers as directed by your healthcare provider may reduce your chances of skin sensitivity. If your skin gets irritated, your healthcare provider may tell you to reduce how often you apply it or stop use altogether if your reaction is severe.

Additionally, do not use coverings (bandages or dressing) unless directed by your healthcare provider.


Store at room temperature (77 F) away from heat. However, you may temporarily store the cream between cool and mildly hot (59 F to 86 F) temperatures. Keep Aklief out of reach of pets and children.

You can also ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best ways to dispose of your medications. The FDA's website is a potentially helpful resource for where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

How Long Does Aklief Take to Work?

Aklief may start working in as little as two to four weeks after starting the treatment. In a phase 3 clinical study, Aklief significantly improved facial and truncal acne (i.e., acne on the chest, back, or shoulders) by the end of the 12-week trial.

What Are the Side Effects of Aklief?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Aklief may cause little or no side effects. However, skin reactions are common with this drug. Tell your healthcare provider if any of these side effects become bothersome or do not go away:

  • Stinging, scaling, or burning skin
  • Dry skin
  • Skin redness

Photosensitivity is also possible, meaning the use of Aklief may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Keep this in mind when spending time outside and take steps to protect your skin from the sun.

Severe Side Effects

Aklief rarely causes severe side effects. It may cause sunburn due to increased photosensitivity or skin irritation. Skin irritations worsen during the first four weeks of drug use but decrease with continuous use.

Report Side Effects

Aklief may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much of Aklief Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For topical dosage form (cream):
    • For acne:
      • Adults and children 9 years of age and older—Apply a thin layer to the affected area(s) of the skin once a day, usually in the evening or at bedtime.
      • Children younger than 9 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Missed Dose

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is too close to your next dose, skip the missed dose. Go back to your regular dosing frequency. Do not apply extra or double the quantity.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Aklief?

Applying too much Aklief on your intact skin is rarely harmful. Still, wash off any excess cream on your skin with water. Trifarotene may cause harm if swallowed, so keep the cream out of reach of children and pets.

What Happens If I Overdose on Aklief

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Aklief, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after using Aklief, call 911 immediately.


Drug Content Provided by IBM Micromedex®

It is important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to use it.

Skin reactions such as dryness, redness, scaling, burning, or stinging can occur when you use this medicine. Use a moisturizer as needed to lessen these skin problems.

Avoid exposing your skin to wind, cold weather, and sunlight, even on cloudy days. Your skin will be more prone to sunburn, dryness, or irritation. Do not use a sunlamp or tanning bed. Use a sunscreen or sunblock lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 on a regular basis. Wear protective clothing and hats and stay out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

It is likely that your skin may become irritated with normal use of this medicine. You should not stop using trifarotene unless your skin becomes too red, dry, puffy, or otherwise irritated. If severe irritation occurs, contact your doctor.

Avoid the use of waxing as a hair removal method on the skin treated with this medicine.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you should avoid skin products that can dry or irritate the skin. Some examples are:

  • Hair products that are irritating, such as hair removal products.
  • Skin products that cause sensitivity to the sun, such as those containing spices or limes.
  • Skin products containing a large amount of alcohol, such as astringents, shaving creams, or after-shave lotions.
  • Skin products that are too drying or abrasive, such as some cosmetics, soaps, or skin cleansers.

What Other Medications Interact With Aklief?

There are no known significant interactions with Aklief.

What Medications Are Similar?

Medications similar to Aklief that are used to treat acne include:

Depending on acne severity, treatment options may range from over-the-counter, like Differin, to prescription drug choices, like Ziana. In severe cases, healthcare providers may order isotretinoin, a powerful acne drug. Unlike Aklief, isotretinoin is a pill. Its use is restricted because it can be harmful to a developing fetus if used during pregnancy. All people on isotretinoin must be enrolled in a program known as iPledge.

This is a list of drugs also prescribed for acne. It is NOT a list of drugs recommended to take with Aklief. You should not take these drugs together. Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Aklief used to treat?

    Aklief is a topical used to treat acne (pimples) in people 9 years and older. It can be used to treat facial acne or truncal acne (acne on the chest, back, or shoulders).

  • How does Aklief work?

    Aklief works by peeling the affected skin, unclogging pores, and preventing new acne from forming. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects.

  • What are some side effects of Aklief?

    Common side effects associated with Aklief are typically skin reactions, such as local irritation and dryness. However, these side effects typically resolve after continued use of the cream.

    Aklief can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so take care to protect your skin when spending time outdoors or near any source of ultraviolet rays.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Aklief?

    Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is too close to your next dose, skip the missed dose. Return to your regular dosing frequency. Do not apply extra or double the amount.

  • How should I store Aklief?

    Store the cream at room temperature away from heat. However, you may store the drug between cool and mildly hot (59 to 86 degrees F) temperatures for brief periods.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Aklief?

Many people deal with acne, some worse than others. Acne can affect your confidence and self-esteem. It can be difficult to manage and may leave scars on your face. Acne medications like Aklief help to unclog pores and stop new pimples from forming.

Although generally safe, Aklief can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet rays. While using the cream, remember to:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or more daily
  • Wear clothes that protect you from the sunlight
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

If you find that your acne symptoms aren't improving, talk to your healthcare provider to see if other options might work better for you.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Aklief label.

  2. MedlinePlus. Trifarotene topical.

  3. Cosio T, Di Prete M, Gaziano R, et al. Trifarotene: a current review and perspectives in dermatology. Biomedicines. 2021;9(3):237. doi:10.3390/biomedicines9030237

  4. Naik PP. Trifarotene: a novel therapeutic option for acne. Dermatol Res Pract. 2022;2022:1504303. doi: 10.1155/2022/1504303

  5. Tan J, Thiboutot D, Popp G, et al. Randomized phase 3 evaluation of trifarotene 50 μg/g cream treatment of moderate facial and truncal acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019;80(6):1691-1699. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2019.02.044

  6. Santhosh P, Kidangazhiathmana A. Trifarotene - the latest retinoid. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2021;87(5);742-745. doi:10.25259/IJDVL_741_20

  7. Food and Drug Administration. Accutane label.

By Queen Buyalos, PharmD
Queen Buyalos is a pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She takes pride in advocating for cancer prevention, overall health, and mental health education. Queen enjoys counseling and educating patients about drug therapy and translating complex ideas into simple language.